Even if web design is not your “forte,” so to speak, chances are you have an idea of what your business website should look like. At best, you have a clear vision in your head that you just can’t shake; you can perfectly imagine what photos you’ll showcase, what colors you’ll sport, and what kind of pages you’ll employ to describe and sell your product or service. You might even have a competitor business website you admire and hope to model your design after. Knowing what you want is a great first step.
But if you are operating without a professional designer, tread lightly. What you may consider to be an important “artistic choice” may end up hurting your business efforts. When faced with any of the following design decisions, it’s a good idea to let go of any stubborn preconceived ideas of what your design will be, and be open to other possibilities.
Your Color Choice
Every business has a unique identity, and this includes its physical appearance in conjunction with your logo and its colors. Even if you don’t have a finalized logo yet, make sure you consider your business colors carefully. What kind of shades represent your business well? Would you rather have a monochromatic theme, or use a variety of colors? It won’t necessarily need to be a perfect choice, but it’s extremely important that it be “appropriate.” For example, using a dull color for an exciting product could diminish the desired effect and short-sell your product, and law firm websites with bright, exciting colors could confuse and possibly alienate visitors.
It’s useful to decide your color scheme early on so that your website design can center around it. If you haven’t already established a “style guide” for your business, your website will serve as a makeshift one for future. With the colors that will support your brand chosen, all you have to do is stick to them on all further print materials, products, and the like. But make sure to avoid colors that are too flashy – this can make your content really difficult to read on mobile devices.
Your Font Choice
With all the font styles out there, you can end up really beating yourself over this decision. You can usually rule out serif fonts, since they’re more difficult to read, and smaller fonts that are not friendly to those with vision problems. There also do exist certain fonts with surprisingly negative emotional attachments (comic sans and papyrus are two in particular, with full websites dedicated to those who dislike them). These are probably smart to avoid if you don’t want to immediately turn people off your brand.
Take some time to research the fonts available to you. You don’t have to stick to the ones that your CMS or website backend system offers – look beyond for free fonts to download online. Find one that fits your brand, one that’s easy to read, and one that clumps together paragraph-wise in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Your Call-to-Action Placement
Your “call-to-action” is very important, if not the most important asset to your website. This is where your site will actually serve you as a business tool, not just as a pretty face. Your website should funnel users through the path that leads them to buying your product, enlisting for your services, or whatever it is you’d like them to do. With just a slightly-off placement of your call-to-action button, you could completely cut off your conversion flow and lose many customers.
Make sure your button or link lies above the fold and is extremely visible (either large or brightly colored) so that it is easily accessible for visitors as they land on your website. You should also place one at the bottom of each page to snag people after they’ve researched your product. Avoid obscuring them amongst ads, and be careful when placing them over images to make sure they stand out. As long as your button is well-located and provides enough contrast from the web page itself to be easily seen, you should be okay.
The Length of your Content
Content may not seem to be much of a design concern, but considering how much space it takes up on your page it should be considered heavily for both its aesthetics and its functionality. While it may look nicer to you, too little content is not helpful for anyone (especially for your relationship with Google). Too much content looks blocky, and takes up space that might look better empty.
Your homepage content should contain at least have 350 words, especially if you’re worried about ranking better with Google. You should break it up into easily scannable sections with bullet points and headings if appropriate. As a general best practice, you should write your content first and later design your webpage around it. But, in some cases, you may have to specially design and cater the content to fit well into your design.
How Many Images You Have
Images are a nice way to spice up the design of your site, but there is definitely a limit on how many you should use. Each image carries a lot of weight and can quickly take your page overboard into the “cluttered” zone (which can make viewers very uneasy). It’s also important to consider that, the more images on a page, the more time that page will take to load. This is extremely frustrating to your users, and will drive them away quicker than nearly anything.
Choose your images wisely, and then evenly balance out your webpage with what you have. For example, don’t place all your images on the right side of the page; evenly divide them out, and balance them with blocks of text and other assets. (As a sidenote, you should also use original images whenever possible and appropriate – be wary of overusing stock photography if you want to build an original brand and trust with the user.)
What Your Buttons Look Like
What your “call-to-action” and other buttons will look like are very important to consider. This more complicated step is usually a step left to a hired designer, but if you are overseeing the creation yourself then you’ll want to make sure you get a few things straight.
Are the buttons clear to identify? Are they consistently styled from page to page (they should never change color or font from page to page)? Are they labeled appropriately, with clear language that leaves no question about what the button will help the user accomplish? This important design step is an important foundation for your site’s user experience, and should not be overlooked.
Your website can be an extremely valuable asset to your business. My software Website Rocket will help you utilize it consistently and keep it tuned-up, but bringing your beautiful website to fruition is up to you. Just remember: a well designed website will likely make a huge difference on your overall online business success. Take the extra time, or spend the extra money on your website. It will last you a long time, and will ultimately be well worth it all.